Nigeria: Artists’ Village demolished

nigeria artists village
On 23 January 2016 the Artists’ Village at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos was demolished on the orders of the theatre’s management, reported news portal allAfrica.com.

Artists said demolition began at around five o’clock in the morning under the supervision of the theatre’s general manager Kabiru Yusuf who was guarded by a team of armed policemen. Further, artists claim that they were only able to save a fraction of their works as Yusuf only gave them a 15-minute warning to gather and move their belongings, which has led to a significant monetary loss for many.

During the demolition, eyewitnesses report several shots being fired to discourage anyone from retaliating. A scuffle, however, ensued and one artist was shot.

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has come out in defense of the artists and has called on the government to compensate the artists for their loss of works and creative space.

The village operates as an annex to the theatre with various structures operating as workshops and studios, mainly built by the artists themselves, and has also become a place for up and coming artists who cannot afford steep rental prices in the rest of the city.

However, the government claims the village has become “a hive for illegal and illicit activities”, reported News 24 Nigeria.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed confirmed that he approved the demolition, but that it was only for the demolition of shanties and not for the Artists’ Village itself.


Photos from Squad1productions Facebook page


Sources

» allAfrica.com – 27 January 2016:
Nigeria: Soyinka asks government to compensate artists displaced from National Theatre

» allAfrica.com – 27 January 2016:
Nigeria: Those behind Artists’ Village demolition must be punished – Soyinka

» The Nation – 27 January 2016:
Trauma as Artists Village is demolished

» News 24 Nigeria – 25 January 2016:
Government demolishes artist’s village at National Arts Theatre

» BellaNaija.com – 24 January 2016:
Artists protest as government demolishes Artists’ Village at National Arts Theatre

» Leadership – 23 January 2016:
Minister appeals for calm after Artistes’ Village demolitions


Related information

» Artsfreedom.org – 27 January 2016:
Nigeria: Artist arrested for political performance piece

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